The Federal Government yesterday in Lagos, launched ‘Operation White’ in its bid to curb the rising wave of petroleum products diversion and reduce the bogus subsidy claim currently at N10 trillion.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, at the launch of `Operation White’ said the project was also geared towards ensuring transparency and accountability of petroleum product supply and distribution in Nigeria.
He further expressed his optimism that the gains of the Operation White project will reduce the inflated product consumption figure and ultimately reduce the subsidy wage.
Nigeria spent about N10 trillion on fuel subsidy between 2006 and 2018. Last year, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) disclosed that it incurred N623.17 billion in subsidy claims between January and November.
More worrisome is the fact that a larger chunk of petroleum products, especially petrol often times end up in neighboring West African countries.
Sylva, who was represented by the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF), Mr. Ahmed Boboi, said the essence of the initiative was to entrench energy security and deepen the drive for transparency in downstream operations.
He said that the strategic initiative was aimed at deploying adequate measures in ensuring all molecules of regulated petroleum product imported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are well accounted for and utilized in-country.
‘`NNPC continues to record excellent performance in petroleum product supply and distribution to the nation. It is doing what it is supposed to do as the supplier of last resort, but the reality is that the nation bears a great cost in terms of absorbing the shocks of price differentials.
It is critical that all hands must be on deck to ensure that every molecule of product imported into this country is utilized within the borders of this nation for the benefit of the Nigerian populace.
This is of utmost national imperative and a core thrust of Mr. President’s mandate for the leadership of the oil and gas industry.
Therefore, the task for us is to ensure that the petroleum products supply and distribution chain in Nigeria is completely devoid of illicit practices including oil theft, diversion and smuggling of petroleum products, which constitute economic sabotage and hemorrhage of the national revenue through high cost of under recovery,’’ he said.
The Minister said to achieve the above target requires diligence, commitment, courage and robust partnership amongst various downstream stakeholders.
“There is also a dire need to instill an improved culture of transparency, accountability and efficiency in the industry, streamline our operations along best practices by championing and implementing strategic reforms at every layer of the supply and distribution chain.
If we are able to plug the leakages, and tighten all loose ends, we are convinced that we can do even more with the little that we are getting at this moment of modest oil prices than we did even in the time of plenty.
This administration is committed to placing the oil and gas sector on the trajectory of growth. It is my firm belief that all the initiatives contained in our 10 key priority areas will put the petroleum sector on the path of robust growth.
The host of the NNPC’s OperationWhite, Aiteo Energy resources, represented by its Deputy CEO , Mr. Francis Peters, in his welcome remarks enthused, “we are delighted to host this significant intervention of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the NNPC group, “Operation White”.
“As strategic infrastructure partners , the Aiteo Energy Resources Limited lauds this initiative aimed at deploying adequate measures in ensuring that all regulated petroleum products imported by NNPC are well accounted for and utilized in-country.
We will continue to be an industry benchmark for performance in product supply and distribution to Nigeria- further strengthening the NNPC’s vision of energy and petroleum products security and sustainability, especially throughout the festive season.” he said
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr.Mele Kyari, charged the team to deliver on the onerous national assignment of controlling leakages of petroleum products, especially petrol , adding that they have no option but to succeed.
Kyari was represented by the Chief Finance Officer of NNPC Mr Umar Ajiya said that ‘Operation White’ would monitor and track every molecule of petroleum products imported into the country and follow it through to the pump,
He said that the NNPC was poised to support the Federal Government in its quest to guaranteeing energy security for the country.
The NNPC boss said “The selection of ‘Operation White’ team was very thorough and people of great competence and high level of integrity were head-hunted for this national assignment.
Today, we are good to go and we will see our transaction end-to-end as is the case in other countries.
We are poised to support the minister to ensure that energy security is guaranteed for our dear country so that our principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, would be proud of us,” Kyari added.
He encouraged the team members to deliver on the national assignment with a deepened sense of patriotism and excellence.
He pledged that the project will monitor and track the entire movement of petroleum products and enshrine visible transparency across the value chain.
Earlier the Managing Director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) Mr Bala Wunti, said adequate institutional and governance structure of the team’s operations has been put in place.
He said that the members of the team were drawn from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) as well as the Department of State Security (DSS).